Jose Dariel Abreu Rumors
The Rockies placed multiple bids on Jose Dariel Abreu and while its not known how close they came to matching the White Sox's six-year, $68MM offer, it gives an interesting window into their offseason intentions, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Abreu might have been out of their price range, but a hitter like free agent Justin Morneau, who is on their radar, wouldn't be. Here's more from around baseball..
- Now that their 2013 season is over, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) offers some suggestions for how the Tigers can take the next step forward this winter. The first step will be addressing some tough questions with free agents including Joaquin Benoit and Jhonny Peralta, who says that he'd like to return to Detroit.
- An international scout from the National League said the price paid for Abreu seems a little steep, write Colleen Kane and Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Meanwhile, the White Sox like that they don't have to give up draft picks as they might for a major league free agent or prospects in a trade.
- It was reported that MLB is looking into Magic Johnson's comments that the Dodgers won't pursue free agent second baseman Robinson Cano, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that they aren't viewing it too harshly. Had the comments been made by Stan Kasten or someone in baseball operations, it'd be a different story.
- The Red Sox's success this year is a reminder that, sometimes, finding the right fits for your team is more important than star power, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
After the Tigers were knocked out of the playoffs, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at some of the club's flaws. He starts at the top of the lineup, where Austin Jackson's .337 on-base percentage and eight stolen bases were not good enough of a contrast to the slow, power-hitting lineup that produced the best offense in baseball. Possible solutions this winter include Scott Boras clients Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. “That’s the one team we haven’t heard Ellsbury’s name mentioned with,” said one American League GM. “We’ve heard a lot about the Mets, Mariners, Rangers, but the Tigers make perfect sense. They are a big-market team with big resources. There’s a relationship with Scott and Mr. Ilitch. They’ve done business before and there’s no reason they can’t do business again.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Giants would probably listen to anyone who had interest in Pablo Sandoval, but his weight will be an issue for clubs. However, his conditioning might not totally dissuade teams given the lack of third base options available.
- Tony La Russa is out there, but according to a Cubs source there’s been no contact with him. For his part, La Russa has told friends he’d rather be considered for a front office job than manage again.
- Two people in baseball operations with the Blue Jays indicated to Cafardo that they need two quality starting pitchers to go with Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and R.A. Dickey. They could take care of one of those spots by extending a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson.
- It doesn't appear that Justin Morneau will return to the Pirates but the Orioles could make a play for him this winter as they go for another bat. If Carlos Beltran is too pricey, Morneau could be an alternative even though the O's may prefer a right-handed bat like Mike Morse.
- The Red Sox went pretty far in their pursuit of Jose Dariel Abreu, but ultimately they lost out to the White Sox. It was a sensitive negotiation for Boston out of respect for pending free agent Mike Napoli, who would have been affected by an Abreu signing.
- There’s some real talk about the possibility that the Rays could see Montreal as a real alternative if plans for a new stadium don’t work out in the Tampa area.
- One of the reasons why Nolan Ryan parted ways with the Rangers was because of the club's decision to let bench coach Jackie Moore go.
- The Yankees appear to be on the verge of shaking up their scouting and player development departments.
The White Sox made one of the first big strikes of the offseason when they agreed to sign Jose Dariel Abreu to a six-year, $68MM deal. We've already collected some reaction to the Abreu signing and heard what it could mean for Paul Konerko's future with the Sox, so let's expand our look at the Windy City's baseball news to include the latest on the Cubs...
- "Depending on what is considered major," Abreu's signing will probably be the only major White Sox free agent move of the offseason, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes. The Sox could still make further moves via trades, as Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham have drawn some interest from other teams.
- Also from Merkin, GM Rick Hahn goes into detail about how the three-team trade from last July between the White Sox, Red Sox and Tigers developed. Chicago got an important piece for the future in Avisail Garcia while the deal is currently having a big impact on the ALCS, with Jake Peavy starting for Boston and Jose Iglesias starting at shortstop for Detroit.
- Jim Thome won't be the next White Sox hitting coach, Hahn told reporters (including CSN Chicago's Charlie Roumeliotis) during a conference call today. Still, Hahn praised Thome's work as a special assistant to the GM and predicted he would become a coach in the future.
- An NL executive tells Peter Gammons that while the White Sox may have overpaid for Abreu, they have "one of the half-dozen thinnest farm systems in the game and Abreu doesn’t cost them a draft choice." Gammons also hears mixed reviews of Abreu from a scout and a general manager, though the GM's team still offered Abreu $40MM.
- Rays bench coach Dave Martinez interviewed with the Cubs today about their managerial opening and now the club will move onto the next step of its hiring process, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Martinez joins Manny Acta, A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria as contenders for the job, and while Renteria just underwent hip surgery, he is still "considered a very strong candidate."
- The Cubs would prefer to hire a bilingual manager since they have so many important Latin American prospects, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter links). Speaking Spanish isn't "a must" but it could be a tiebreaker if the Cubs are weighing equal candidates. Hinch is the only one of the four who doesn't speak Spanish, though the Cubs could still hire him to manage and hire Spanish-speaking coaches instead.
- CSN Chicago's Dave Kaplan spoke to several sources around the game about the four candidates. Martinez is seen as the clear best choice, Renteria was praised though there were some doubts about him as a first-time manager, Acta's unsuccessful stints managing the Indians and Nationals are strikes against him and Hinch drew scathing reviews. Kaplan, for his part, thinks the Cubs should hire Brad Ausmus.
The Mets were said to be intrigued by Jose Dariel Abreu's power but ultimately, they weren't one of the finalists for him and they weren't the team to sign him. Why didn't GM Sandy Alderson take the plunge? The Mets figure that they have first base covered between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, and Josh Satin with possible support from Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Mets weren't the only team in their division intrigued by the Serie Nacional star, however. Here's more out of the NL East..
- The Marlins were among the finalists for the Cuban slugger, but they bowed out of the bidding when it went north of $60MM, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Giants were also said to be among the clubs in the mix this week.
- The Nationals had interest in Abreu, but the dollar amount got "crazy" in their view, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link).
- Dusty Baker isn't expected to be a candidate for the Nationals' managerial job, Kilgore tweets. Baker contacted GM Mike Rizzo last week about his interest in the position but there doesn't seem to be any interest on Washington's end.
- A talent evaluator with knowledge of the Nationals' manager search tells ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link) that he would be shocked if Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams isn't hired.
- Braves GM Frank Wren recognizes that he needs to add experience to his rotation, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Atlanta considered making a play for Jake Peavy at the trade deadline but those thoughts quickly fizzled when it became apparent that they didn't have the pieces necessary to close that deal.
Last night, the White Sox signed Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu to a six-year, $68MM deal - the largest ever for an international free agent and the most lucrative deal for any White Sox player in club history. Abreu turned heads in his showcases for clubs earlier this month and had serious interest from the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, Marlins, and Giants. Here's a look at the latest reactions to the deal..
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links) that bidding for Abreu was fast and furious with four clubs bidding between $63MM and $66M. It's not known which four teams put those bids down, but the White Sox’s winning bid of $68MM wasn't excessive.
- While Abreu’s power is impressive, scouts are split over whether his power will translate against major league pitching, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. Some consider his bat speed is just average and he appears vulnerable to good fastballs on the inner third of the plate. The first baseman lacks the athleticism of fellow Cuban stars Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig.
- The scouting consensus is that Masahiro Tanaka is better than Abreu and the total price tag for the Japanese hurler should be going up, tweets Badler.
- While some are up in arms about Abreu's price tag, Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors (via Twitter) notes that there is plenty chance for Abreu to be something between boom or bust at $11.3MM annually.
- It’s interesting that the White Sox signed Abreu to a hefty deal without having publicly disclosed future of first baseman Paul Konerko yet, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). It's possible the veteran has already indicated that he will probably retire or maybe the White Sox determined that Abreu is the first baseman of the future, no matter what.
Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu has narrowed his list of possible destinations to the Astros, Red Sox, and White Sox, multiple industry sources tell Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The standout first baseman could sign within the next two weeks.
The Rangers, Giants, and Marlins were also showing strong interest in Abreu along the way but are no longer in the running. ESPN's Buster Olney reported yesterday that the 26-year-old is expected to command a deal in the range of $70MM. Such a deal would shatter the four-year, $36MM contract signed by Yoenis Cespedes and the seven-year, $42MM pact signed by Yasiel Puig.
Recently, Tim Dierkes profiled Abreu and noted that because he is looked at as an "all bat" prospect, it would make sense for him to wind up in the American League. Now, barring something unforeseen, the former Serie Nacional star will call the AL his home in 2014.
Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu's name continues to generate buzz. The latest, courtesy of ESPN's Buster Olney, is that the Rangers, White Sox and Astros have emerged as the front-runners to sign the 26-year-old, and his price tag is expected to be around $70MM (Twitter link).
In yesterday's free agent profile of Abreu, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that a six-year, $54MM contract would be required to sign him. Previous reports have indicated that he could cost as much as $60MM, but Olney's report pegs him significantly higher. Such a commitment would shatter the four-year, $36MM contract signed by Yoenis Cespedes and the seven-year, $42MM contract signed by Yasiel Puig. The success of that pairing could be a contributing factor to Abreu's lofty price tag.
As Tim noted in Abreu's profile, Abreu is viewed by many as an "all bat" player, with his first base defense being somewhat questionable. As such, it makes sense that three American League teams are seen as the favorites; each would have the luxury of giving him some at-bats at DH to mitigate that potential weakness.
In addition to Texas, Chicago and Houston, the Marlins are expected to be big players for Abreu. Earlier in the month, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported that the Fish are "all-in" on trying to sign Abreu, who, along with Jose Fernandez, would give Miami an appealing Cuban pairing to market to their fanbase.
9:28pm: The Rangers will not sign Abreu, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. The Astros and Red Sox likely will not, either. The White Sox still appear to be the favorites, although there might still be a "mystery team" involved.
7:29pm: Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu is "finalizing" a six-year, $68MM contract, likely with the White Sox, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Abreu is represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management. The deal would be the largest contract ever for an international free agent. It would easily surpass the six-year, $42MM deal Yasiel Puig received from the Dodgers last June.
This afternoon, it emerged that Abreu was deciding between the White Sox, Red Sox and Astros. The Rangers, Marlins and Giants had also shown interest.
Abreu, 26, defected from Cuba two months ago. He put up massive numbers in Cuba's Serie Nacional, winning over-the-top praise for his power and earning comparisons to Ryan Howard. Some experts have raised doubts about his bat speed, however, and his defense and athleticism are not highly regarded. Tim Dierkes' profile of Abreu predicted he would receive a six-year, $54MM contract.
Is Jose Dariel Abreu MLB's next Cuban sensation? Abreu, who turns 27 in January, defected from Cuba in August and is now free to sign with any team. He has a good chance to sign the largest contract ever for a Cuban player, topping Yasiel Puig's seven-year, $42MM deal. Every team had some kind of scouting presence at Abreu's early October showcase, reported Baseball America's Ben Badler.
Abreu put up huge numbers in Cuba's Serie Nacional as well as in international tournaments. His calling card is power, prompting Athletics assistant GM David Forst to say to Grantland's Jonah Keri in February 2012, "There are legitimate comparisons to Ryan Howard." Badler elaborated in August this year, "Abreu is a physically imposing righthanded hitter with tremendous raw power to all fields." In an ESPN article, former GM Jim Bowden gave Abreu a 70 hit tool and 70 for power on the scouting scale, after talking to "a few execs and scouts who have seen him play." One scout told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick Abreu has "monstrous power." Many different reports suggest Abreu could hit 30 home runs for an MLB team right away, a level no free agent reached in 2013. Given the scouting grade on his power, it seems possible Abreu could reach 40 in a season at some point during his contract.
Since Abreu will play in 2014 at age 27, he's younger than every significant free agent hitter. A six-year deal could still catch a large portion of his prime, which is unlikely to be the case with any other free agent.
If they reach the open market, many of the top free agent power bats have a good chance of requiring the sacrifice of a draft pick to sign: Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, Mike Napoli, Kendrys Morales, Shin-Soo Choo, and Brian McCann. Abreu will not require the loss of a draft pick.
If Abreu has a few vintage Ryan Howard or David Ortiz-caliber seasons during his contract, he should easily be worth $50-60MM, and could provide an excellent return on investment. MLB executives are drooling at the thought. There have been some less-than-glowing reports about Abreu's overall hitting ability, however.
Abreu's bat speed was questioned in a pair of excellent reports from Badler and Crasnick, and there are multiple scouts who feel he will struggle against hard fastballs inside. Crasnick talked to a scout who described Abreu as a less-athletic Dayan Viciedo, a player with a .264/.306/.432 line in over 1,200 big league plate appearances. In sum, Viciedo has been about replacement level for his career. The scout felt that Abreu has more power than Kendrys Morales, but is a worse hitter. There are few questions about Abreu's power, but will he be able to hit for average or draw a walk? Badler has noted that scouts and teams have extensive history watching Abreu, but based on reports, it's unclear whether they project him over or under Morales' .333 career OBP.
Reports vary on Abreu's ability to contribute beyond his bat. One scout told Crasnick Abreu is "all bat," an Edgar Martinez type, while another felt he could be a solid first baseman. The bar is raised for a bat-only player, and it's certainly possible to hit 25-30 home runs and still be replacement level, as Raul Ibanez did this year. As far as young DHs go, Billy Butler has a .298/.364/.459 line in seven seasons, yet has never had a season in which he was worth three wins above replacement. Still, if Abreu settles in as a two-win player, he'll be worth a $10MM salary.
At 6'2" and 250 pounds, Abreu is not nearly the athlete Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes is, though Crasnick says Abreu has ramped up his conditioning of late. He's still likely to be a negative in baserunning.
Abreu is married and has a son, and I've heard he is a relatively quiet player who takes a professional approach to his job. Abreu is more grounded than Puig and is considered a "good kid" in scouting circles, according to Crasnick. Abreu's good friend Henry Urrutia, an outfielder for the Orioles, told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, "He's a humble man and he comes from a rural area of hard-working people." Abreu has a "fun-loving personality," heard MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
The top end of the free agent market for first basemen includes Mike Napoli and Kendrys Morales, both of whom seem likely to come with a draft pick cost attached. Badler talked to scouts who preferred Napoli to Abreu, but it's far from a slam dunk. Though Abreu has been scouted extensively, I still believe some teams will be seduced by the allure of the unknown, as it's easier to dream about Abreu hitting 40 home runs than Napoli or Morales, partially because Abreu has never played in the Majors.
Unlike typical free agents, Abreu is free to sign now and already held a showcase, so rumors are plentiful. The Marlins, Red Sox, White Sox, Rangers, Giants, Pirates, Orioles, and Mets have been linked to Abreu to varying degrees, and Badler says the first five teams had the strongest presence at his showcase in the Dominican Republic. Abreu's market is not limited to win-now teams, given his age. The Marlins, in particular, are "all-in" on Abreu, wrote MLB.com's Joe Frisaro in early October. They sent GM Dan Jennings to his showcase, and already have two of Abreu's countrymen on the roster in Jose Fernandez and Adeiny Hechavarria.
Predicting Abreu's contract is particularly difficult without knowing the player's goals. Cespedes made a point of limiting his term to four years, to allow a quick path back to free agency. Puig maximized his total dollars by taking a seven-year deal, a contract few saw coming in advance. Napoli has his share of drawbacks, yet I've projected a three-year, $42MM contract. Given that Abreu is more than five years younger, won't cost a draft pick, and may have more power, an average annual value of $10MM or less may be a bargain. $60MM over six years appears to be Abreu's ceiling. Ultimately I find the oft-cited six-year, $54MM prediction to be the best bet.
As the Athletics get ready for Game 5 against the Tigers, owner Lew Wolff is embroiled in a different battle with the Giants for the right to move his team to San Jose. Wolff goes way back with commissioner Bud Selig, but that won't play a major role in the proceedings. "Well, we were in the same fraternity," Wolff told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, "but Bud was there to get an education. I was there to have a good time. Bud was involved in so many intramural events, there wasn't a game or sport he missed. Of course, he was a spectator. I don't remember him playing any of it." More from around baseball..
- The Orioles believe that Mike Morse's injury "pre-dated" their summer trade with the Mariners, but it's not an issue they're pursuing, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Morse is a pending free agent this winter after posting a combined slash line of .215/.270/.381 with 13 homers this past season.
- The Mariners' have a long list of managers that they might pursue this winter, but Joe Girardi is not among them, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While they surely believe that Girardi is a strong skipper, they know that they won't be able to compete with the allure of the Yankees or Cubs openings. Three names believed to be on the list are A's coach Chip Hale, Giants coach Ron Wotus, and newly-minted Phillies third base coach Pete Mackanin.
- A high-ranking Mets official told the Star-Ledger’s Jorge Castillo that scouts came away “impressed” with Jose Dariel Abreu’s power after watching him in Santo Domingo last week.
- There is no telling how the NL East will shake out, but the Braves could be contenders without making a single offseason move, opines Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
- The Rockies announced today that Jorge de la Rosa had his option picked up for 2014, but the pitcher says that he was already assured that it would be exercised last week, writes Rafael Rojas Cremonesi for MLB.com.